Essay about James Joyce's The Dead

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James Joyce's The Dead

In The Dead, James Joyce lets symbolism flow freely throughout his short story. James Joyce utilizes his main characters and objects in The Dead to impress upon his readers his view of Dublin’s crippled condition. Not only does this apply to just The Dead, Joyce’s symbolic themes also exude from his fourteen other short stories that make up the rest of Joyce’s book, Dubliners, to describe his hometown’s other issues of corruption and death that fuel Dublin’s paralysis. After painting this grim picture of Dublin, James Joyce uses it to express his frustration and to explain his realistic view that the only solution to the issues with Dublin depends on a move to the West and towards a new life, rather than
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Coupled with his depiction of Dublin’s immobile status through his characters, James Joyce also exemplifies his theme of paralysis through snow. In Daniel R. Schwarz’s psychoanalytic criticism of The Dead, he explains that “the snow imagery focuses our attention on a world outside Gabriel…where as ice, it suggests the emotional sterility of a world reduced to social gestures, empty talk, and loveless relationships” (Schwarz 123). However, I disagree with Schwarz and believe that James Joyce uses snow to symbolically represent the cold and dead Dublin due to its uncertain political period. When Gabriel first enters his aunt’s party, “A light fringe of snow lay like a cape on the shoulders of his overcoat and like toecaps on the toes of his galoshes; and as the buttons of his overcoat slipped with a squeaking noise through the snow-stiffened frieze, a cold fragrant air from out-of-doors escaped from crevices and folds” (The Dead 23). This symbolism comes back at the end of The Dead through Gabriel’s later thoughts on how the snow “was falling on every part of the dark central plain, on the treeless hills…falling upon every part of the lonely churchyard,” and touching both the living and the dead, symbolizing that not only Gabriel, but his entire country, both the living and the lifeless had been united in
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